Skip to main content


Showing posts with the label One Paragraph Science

Red Light For Declining Eyesight | ONE PARAGRAPH SCIENCE

A study published earlier this year in The Journals of Gerontology found that staring at a deep red light (of a specific wavelength) for three minutes a day can significantly improve declining eyesight that comes as a result of the ageing process. Over 40, our vision starts to decline and our retina starts to age. Our retina’s photoreceptor cells are rich in mitochondria as they have high energy demands. Subsequently, this results in the retina ageing faster than other organs in the body and losing most of its photoreceptor function over life. To try to prevent or delay this natural phenomenon, Professor Jeffery and his team at University College London (UCL) focused on the sensitivity the retina’s photoreceptors. Photoreceptors are made up of cones which mediate colour vision and rods which provide peripheral vision and adapt vision in low/dim light. They recruited 24 people (12 male, 12 female) aged between 28 and 72 who had no ocular disease. They were all tested for the sensiti


We all know how to make a cup of tea - right? Wrong! I’m talking about the ongoing debate on how to make a cup of tea — the right way. Do you pour tea into milk instead of pouring milk into your tea? Well according to science, there’s a right way to make a cup of tea which ensures it maintains its flavour and texture. It takes into account the various properties that go into making a cup of tea; whether you use tea bags or loose leaf tea, the chemicals that make up tea, milk and water, how much fat there is in your milk, and even the temperature of your water. With that being said, the scientifically preferred method of making a cup of tea is milk first then tea — if you've already brewed the tea in a teapot — which allows the milk to warm evenly and preserve the taste. Pouring milk into hot tea causes the milk to heat unevenly which causes the proteins in it to denature, meaning they lose their structure and “clump”. But if you're making a cup of tea in a mug: hot water/


Okay, I'm going to state it here first, there are no candy canes involved in the science behind these supercapacitors, it only looks like a candy cane. Scientists at QMUL have found a way to make the charging of phones and other devices much, much faster, with better capacities, more flexible and lasting performance. Current technologies don't tick all of the boxes that have just been listed, so a better solution is needed; that's where supercapacitors come in. Supercapacitors are mainly used to power electric and hybrid cars but they're slowly making their way into other technologies because of their ability to store more energy than the state-of-the-art battery. Supercapacitors are made up of two conducting plates, separated by a non-conducting material which can store more charge at a given voltage. The researchers at QMUL made a prototype of a candy-cane-shaped polymer supercapacitor where the nanostructures used to create the supercapacitor are interweaved with

One Paragraph on Green Energy From Grass

Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy, scientists at Cardiff University, UK, have claimed . They have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass with the help of sunlight and a cheap catalyst; hy drogen is contained in enormous quantities all over in the world in water, hydrocarbons and other organic matter and there is a serious need to release hydrogen from these sources in a cheap, efficient and sustainable way. This process is called photoreforming or photocatalysis and involves the sunlight activating the catalyst (metal based: palladium, gold and nickel) which then gets to work on converting cellulose and water into hydrogen− their “results show that significant amounts of hydrogen can be produced using this method with the help of a bit of sunlight and a cheap catalyst”. [1] Caravaca A. et al,    Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science , 2016; 472 (2191) [2]

One paragraph on Migraines caused by Vitamin Deficiencies

Whether it's stress or spending too much time focusing on computer/laptop screens we’re all susceptible to experiencing migraines and some people suffer from them even more than others; and we have heard many recommendations on how to prevent migraines, such as drinking plenty of water, but not the actual reasons why we get migraines. Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre have found that a high percentage of children, teens and young adults with migraines appear to have mild deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10. It’s possible that these deficiencies may play a role in the onset of migraines but this is still unclear, based on existing studies. In this study, the researchers’ trial drew from a database that looks at vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10, all of which are all associated with migraines to some degree, and this has been reported in many previous research studies, some studies have even conflicted each other. Most of

One Paragraph on Origami Surgical Robots

New experiments conducted as a simulation of the human oesophagus and stomach, have shown that a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound. Could we already be seeing the future in the technology of surgeries? This isn’t the first time that this type of technology has been introduced to the world. A predecessor was introduced last year at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation . Even though this years new robot is a successor to one reported at the same conference last year, the design of its body is significantly different. Like its predecessor, it can propel itself using what's called a "stick-slip" motion, in which its appendages stick to a surface through friction when it executes a move, but slip free again when its body flexes to change its weight distribution. Also like its predecessor -- a

One Paragraph on Diabetes and Psychiatric Disorders

A new report featuring in the February 2016 issue of  The FASEB Journal , scientists show that a gene called "DISC1," is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (and other forms of depression); influence the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Understanding how the different mechanisms  of diseases in the body is essential to be able to pick efficient therapies for patients. Bortell and colleagues decided to study the function of DISC1 by comparing 2 groups of mice. The first group was genetically manipulated to disrupt the DISC1 gene only in the mouse's pancreatic beta cells. The second group of mice was normal. The mice with disrupted DISC1 gene showed increased beta cell death, less insulin secretion and impaired glucose regulation while control mice were normal. The researchers found that DISC1 works by controlling the activity of a specific protein (GS

One paragraph on the Zika Virus | One Paragraph Science

W e haven't quite forgotten the ebola virus and a new virus has appeared under the spotlight; the Zika virus. The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos, similar in a way to malaria. However, unlike other mosquito-borne diseases, it is relatively unknown and little studied. The virus is currently showing an alarming rise in cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The virus has also  been associated with an alarming rise in babies born in Brazil with abnormally small heads and brain defects -- a condition called microcephaly.  Zika is spread by the same mosquito as the dengue virus: Aedes aegypti. Dengue is a serious disease but it doesn't usually kill people, whereas, Zika, is much more serious in that it is able to pass through a woman's placenta and impact the unborn child.  Since the Zika outbreak began in northeastern Brazil last spring, an estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people have been infected. The resulting illness only lasts a few days. The symptoms consist

One Paragraph on Personal Blood Sugar Responses | One Paragraph Science

A new study conducted by the Weitzmann Institute of Science has shown that personal reactions to food in individuals blood sugar levels are highly individual. The researchers monitored 800 people for a week (that's over 46,000 meals!).  "We chose to focus on blood sugar because elevated levels are a major risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalised eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice."   Prof Eran Segal and Prof. Eran Elinav commented on their research in Cell journal. Blood sugar, if abnormally high, is a risk for diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Personalised  eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy and on track with their blood sugar and medication; compared to universal dietary advice. The scientists created/designed an alg

One Paragraph on Biological Heart Pacemakers | One Paragraph Science

Patients with heart problems sometimes experience issues with regulating their heart beat and often require artificial pacemakers. but the problem with artificial pacemakers is that they aren't that great anymore and have to be checked and replaced periodically. A review article published on November 20 in Trends in Molecular Medicine highlights the promise and limitations of new methods based on stem cell and reprogramming technologies to generate biological pacemakers that might one day replace electronic pacemakers. Biological pacemakers, which are composed of electrically active cells, can functionally integrate with the heart and could provide natural heart rhythm regulation without the need for indwelling hardware. One way to work with stem cells; scientists can coax the stem cells into becoming cells found in the SAN (Sino-Atrial Node). The second way to work with stem cells; by directly programming supporting cells, already present in the heart - for example, fibroblas

One Paragraph on Male and Female Brain Differences | One Paragraph Science

There’s actually no difference between the male and female minds.  A new research study, published in the journal Neuroimage , is disproving the myth that states that the hippocampus (a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses) is larger in females than in males. Leading a team of students at the Rosalind Franklin Medical School, Lise Elliot, Ph.D., conducted a meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes that found no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to combine the findings from many independent studies into a comprehensive review. The team examined findings from 76 published papers, involving more than 6,000 healthy individuals. Hippocampi are located on both sides of the brain, under the cerebral cortex. The team's findings test the familiar argument that a disproportionately larger hippocampus explains females' tendenc

One Paragraph on Green Tea Supplements

Using high doses of green tea extract supplements for weight loss become increasingly popular, but at the same time potential liver toxicity has become a serious concern. In the last decade, dozens of people have been diagnosed with the condition. However, it’s been found that drinking green tea in the weeks before taking supplements likely reduces risk, according to researchers. Researchers gave mice high doses of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).  The dosage was equivalent to the amount of the polyphenol found in some dietary supplements taken by humans. The research data showed that dietary pre-treatment with the green tea polyphenol protects mice from liver toxicity caused by subsequent high oral doses of the same compound, explained Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science. He suggested that the research has relevance to people who are taking or are considering taking supplements containing green tea extract. There are some daring people w

One Paragraph on Hypoallergenic Parks

Are we ready for hypoallergenic parks? Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  Well, this dream could soon become a reality thanks to research published in the American Society of Agronomy. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to “fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30 percent of the city's population”. Professor Paloma Carinanos’ team specifically studies the city of Granada, Spain. This city's climate and layout is like that of many cities in the Mediterranean area, which has the highest occurrence of pollen allergies in the world. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30% of the city's population. To research team lead by Carinanos began by classifying the trees in Granada's ten largest green spaces. They grouped the trees into three categories. Then they recorded the type of pollination, the length of the pollination period, and the potenti

One Paragraph On Designer Drugs

Designer drugs  make up a larger proportion of the illegal drug market and although they  don’t have a specific definition, it's a term that’s used to describe illegal and abused drugs such as ketamine, fentanyl, LSD, PCP, quaaludes, methcathinone, and amphetamine derivatives such as ecstasy and cocaine. Chemists are continually trying to solve the growing problem of designer drugs – whose regulation is elusive because they involve ever-changing formulas. This is one of the topics which has been discussed at a session at the 250 th  ACS National Meeting & Exposition this summer in Boston U.S.A. “ It is relatively simple to take a drug that has a known psychoactive effect and change one substituent group to make it into another drug that is not yet classified as illegal but provides the same or similar psychoactive high”, explains   William Hoffmann , a postdoctoral student at West Virginia University’s forensic and investigative science department. Hoffmann and his colleagu

One Paragraph On The Ultimate Flu Vaccine

The flu virus mutates every year and there are many different strains of flu virus. If you are in the “at risk” group of people you’re required to take a flu shot every year / every flu season. This can be very cumbersome, so scientists are working on developing a universal flu vaccine that would be active against all strains of the virus and you wouldn’t need inoculations every year. Promising research published in Science Express journal, demonstrates how the team of scientists at the  Crucell Vaccine Institute at the Janssen Center of Excellence for Immunoprophylaxis in the Netherlands (and other research centres in the US) , have extracted different antigens from most flu virus and placed them in the vaccine to mimic the flu virus and stimulate the immune response to produce antibodies in defence, and also keep in memory different types of flu virus, so in the future, dealing with the virus is easier and less burdensome on the victim.  Final results of the study have de

One Paragraph on Meningitis B Vaccines

Today, a new Meningitis B vaccine has been released for babies at age two, four and 12 months old. Every year, 1761 cases are diagnosed in the UK.  Meningitis is the acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord,  known as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with Meningococcal bacteria, which is carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by approximately 1 in 10 people. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore, is a serious medical emergency. After years of discussions and plenty of research, the Meningitis B vaccine will be available for children from September 2015. Campaigners said it could prevent up to 4,000 cases by 2025, but warned that parents should also be aware of meningitis symptoms.  Finally, a catch-up programme will be available for babies born since May who have missed the first jabs. This vaccination has been delayed before, due to c

One Paragraph on Invisibility Cloaks

This Christmas, kids will be expecting something bigger and a million times better than the latest new toy or piece of tech, instead they'll be expecting an invisibility cloak! (Okay, maybe not this year, but very soon indeed.) Scientists in the University of California - San Diego are working on making a  cloaking device that is "both thin and does not alter the brightness of light around a hidden object." They've basically created an invisibility "carpet" which doesn't change the brightness of light around an object sitting on a flat surface by mimicking  the reflection of light off the flat surface, which therefore   cancels the overall distortion of light caused by the object's shape - making the observer  think that there's a flat surface .   Commenting on their research, Dr Hsu explains  "By changing the height of each dielectric particle, we were able to control the reflection of light at each point on the cloak." Dr Hsu

One Paragraph on Smart Drugs

Modafinil (a stimulant drug normally used to treat narcolepsy, to help people with sleeping disorders to stay awake) could soon become the new “smart drug” according to a review published in European Neuropsychopharmacology. Neuroenhancement is the term used to describe the targeted enhancement and extension of cognitive and affective abilities based on an understanding of their underlying neurobiology. The FDA-approved drug modafinil, has been heavily researched for cognitive modulation in healthy humans, and appears safe for widespread use. Their review on the cognitive effects of the “smart pill” modafinil has found that it can improve the performance of healthy people on cognitive tasks, meaning it can be considered the first of these “neuroenhancement agents”. References: [ 1 ]

New year, new ideas and a New Logo!

I'm starting this second year on my blog, trying to come up with new ways to grow Crystals and Catalysts and create content that you will like at the same time. Starting with: One Paragraph Science..... Starting from next week. Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, I will be posting new news in science but in  a new and different way. This is called One Paragraph Science where I will be condensing down news in science (obviously) to just one paragraph, whilst maintaining its meaning and keeping them, short, snappy and straight to the point. This idea I believe, is a great challenge for me because condensing down a long piece of complex research is way harder than it looks. New logo..? Yes,  I've made a brand new, shiny, more professional logo to go with Crystals And Catalysts. I hope everyone likes it as much as I do. :)